Saturday, April 13, 2024

Israel’s airstrikes on Syria unacceptable, says Russia

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov

Spreading conflict to other countries in the Middle East is “unacceptable,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday, while discussing a spate of recent Israeli airstrikes with his Syrian counterpart.

Lavrov brought up the issue of Israeli airstrikes, “which have become more frequent against the backdrop of events around the Gaza Strip,” during a phone call with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a readout of the call.

Both ministers “emphasized the danger of attempts by external forces to turn the Middle East, in its current explosive situation, into an arena for settling geopolitical scores,” the readout added.

Mekdad phoned Lavrov to discuss the situation in Gaza, as well as a number of bilateral issues and the progress in ending the war in Syria. While the 2011 attempt at armed “regime change” backed by the West and some regional powers ended in failure, the north and northeast of Syria remain outside the control of the government in Damascus.

Since the Hamas incursion from Gaza on October 7, Israel has bombed Syria at least three times, repeatedly shutting down the airports in Aleppo and Damascus. One of these attacks was acknowledged by the Israeli ambassador to Germany, who said it was intended to disrupt  “weapons deliveries from Iran.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once said there have been “hundreds” of strikes on Syria over the past decade. On the rare occasions when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) comments on the attacks, it claims to have acted in pre-emptive self-defense against Iran, accusing Tehran of supplying Hezbollah militants. Damascus has repeatedly insisted that the raids constitute a violation of Syrian sovereignty, but to no avail. 

Lavrov and Mekdad agreed on the need for an “immediate end to the bloodshed” in Gaza and a solution to all the humanitarian problems created by the fighting.

Russia has condemned the Hamas attack but called Israel’s response against Gaza an unacceptable form of “collective punishment” against innocent civilians. Moscow has called for a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians through the creation and recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

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